This week was busy! Every year, my Friends group helps provide the way for a highly acclaimed author to visit with different students in our local school district. After my heartbreaking experience with us bringing one of my favorite authors, I pretty much go with whoever the middle school wishes to bring.
This year we hosted Gary D. Schmidt. He is actually from Michigan! Since we will be moving up there, I got him to tell me all about living in central Michigan. Schmidt was delightful as a person and I loved hearing more about the inspiration behind his books, particularly for Orbiting Jupiter. While that is a story for another day, I just have to say I was deeply touched again with our need to take care of young people and to give them hope. When my family and I get to Michigan (I hope before the fall!), I would like to meet him again at a “gig” (as he calls these author visits!) with my family in tow. If you ever get a chance to host or see him, DO! He also left me with a good amount of recommended reads to add to my TBR pile.
Because of this event so aptly named Authorfest, I didn’t get to read very much. I only finished 1 Book and barely finished 1 Audiobook.
Swiss Family Robinson by Johan David Wyss
Oh, how funny to hear the same guy read Swiss Family Robinson who read Robinson Crusoe. Wyss, who wrote the book a century after Robinson Crusoe was published, not only names the family Robinson, but also lets one of the sons wish to pretend to be Crusoe. Ernest wants to be left alone for a few hours on a deserted part of the shipwrecked coast. His father fails to let him do so, but it was still an amusing part of the book.
This story is about a Swiss family of six who are shipwrecked on an unknown coast/island for over a decade. The bulk of the story is spent on detailing how they make various shelters, what they eat and how they gather or capture it, and little excursions they go on together. I rather enjoyed it because I love reading about mundane things, but around disc 6 I started to wonder if there would be more and when, as it is a 9 disc-er.
In Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe wants to get off the island and back with civilized people. His adventure has more drama as Natives go to his island for religious purposes. But with this book, there is hardly any drama and no discussion on wanting to go be “civilized” again (perhaps this is due to the fact that the entire family is there so there is no want of companionship as with Crusoe).
Wyss wraps the story up in the very last disc. The family, plus a shipwrecked young lady who the eldest son had found nearby, find a British ship docked close. It turns out the ship has been sent to locate the young lady, who was lost for 3 years and is a daughter of a captain. Some of the Robinson family decides to leave on the vessel and others wholeheartedly agree to remain. The father sends the ship off to England with the desire for more people to help build up this colony cheekly named New Switzerland.
The only thing that boggled me was that Wyss never says where the family was shipwrecked. I couldn’t figure it out. They had animals magically all there together that are indigenous to only one part of the world, like capybaras to South America and kangaroos to Australia.
It was nice to hear reminders to thank God and to be grateful for what has been provided. It would be interesting to see how this family would be when faced with 21st century issues, however. Someone should write the Robinsons in this day and age but instead of being shipwrecked, they could be jobless and in the city.
This is the story of Sungju. He has turned from a well-taken care of military son into a street urchin. His family, for an undisclosed reason, has been transported from the capital city to the countryside. His father wants to provide for his family so he decides to smuggle goods from China and come back to sell them at the market. He never returns. Sungu’s mother tells him that she is going to go to her sister’s and will come back. She never returns. Sungju has no other choice but to become a kotjebi in order to survive North Korea. Soon he makes a little gang. They float from city to city, stealing goods and fighting for the right to steal in different cities, until one day Sungju’s grandfather finds him and takes him to a farm he prepared in hopes of locating his lost family.
It’s very difficult to read about these 12 year olds doing such things. They drink sool, smoke and take drugs to numb the pain of their lives. The saddest part is that these aren’t lives they chose for themselves; the North Korean government essentially did.
Sungju tells how he made the way out of North Korea into the South and eventually how he gets reunited with his father after years of separation. Of course Sungju is angry at his father for never coming back, but after he tells Sungju of all that happened during the time, Sungju can’t be upset.
To this day they are searching for Sungju’s mother.
What an eye-opening read! Everyone should read this book to understand North Korea, its history, and its government. This book would be a therapeutic read for kids surrounded by or even in gang life. Every Falling Star would be a perfect jumping board from which to discuss poverty and its real effects on humanity. As Schmidt stated during his presentations, art makes you ask questions. This book is art; you really want to figure out how to solve the problems Sungju faced and so many still face.
We read Humphrey’s Creepy-Crawly Camping Adventure by Betty Birney again this week. Theo really loves that hamster! We also read the following picture books.
We Love Friendship Day! by a bunch of a peeps–it is a PAW Patrol/Scholastic book
The team has to deliver valentines since Mr. Postman has a hurt leg.
A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young
A girl sends off for a unicorn (only $.25!). She receives a one-horned goat instead. She attempts to play it off and live with the “unicorn,” but it becomes utterly unbearable. The unicorn delivery man is sent for. Will the girl really send him back? A perfect read to share about what to do when wishes don’t come true.
One of 20 on this year’s 2×2 Reading List. This is a recommended reading list compiled by a group of Texas librarians. They are books appropriate for kids 2 years old to those in second grade. I’m going to try to introduce one or two a week to Theo.
Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHara
Another 2×2 read! Honestly, I can’t stand OHara’s art. So it’s depressing that such a wonderful story has to be drawn the way it is. If you like his art, then ignore my next statement: it’s worth reading even with all the jarring colors and “horrible” pictures. I DO have to give it to OHara for really using the endpapers. If you don’t “read” the endpapers, then you’ll feel that the first sentence comes out of nowhere.
So, after you “read” the endpapers, you’ll see quickly that Bear isn’t Horrible. He accidentally broke the girl’s kite by rolling over it. He gets upset at her for calling him Horrible and decides to see how she would like it if she really met a Horrible Bear. While he tries to find her, the girl accidentally breaks her favorite “listening” stuffy. She understands then that Bear didn’t mean to break her kite. As she goes to apologize to him, they meet. Bear melts when she apologizes and they make up.
What have you been reading?